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Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons crew talks 'the fun of playing a bad guy' at DC FanDome

By Josh Weiss
Deathstroke Knights & Dragons The Movie

It's good to be bad! The folks behind Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons stopped by DC FanDome's second day to discuss the CW Seed TV series that was eventually turned into a feature-length film. While Michael Chiklis (Slade Wilson) was absent from the virtual panel, Chris Jai Alex (The Jackal) was there to discuss the perks of playing a villain. Or as moderator Marc Bernardin put it: "pure evil."

"It is always fun playing the bad guy, it just is," Alex said. "It sounds cliche, but it really is. If you think about it like, this Deathstroke is one of the baddest of the bad, so how do you level the playing field and give him [an enemy] who's formidable to pit him against? I think that in itself is super fun to think about. It's psychological: 'I gotta be like five steps ahead of him.' I think the fun roles to me are a good villain ... a good villain motivates the hero of the story and I really think it's a driving force."

Alex also explained the interesting parallels between Slade Wilson and Jackal. Where Wilson has a wife and son to sort of  temper his more murderous instincts, Jackal is a pure, unfettered murder machine.

"Going to Deathstroke, he's a cold-blooded killer. We know that side of him, but just see what happens when that person goes home, when they take off the mask, that's very interesting to me," he said. "And seeing that Jackal is kind of cut from the same cloth. They are both killers, but one has limitations and one has a hard 'no' on things. And the other one is like, 'Uh, I actually don't, I'm a little more liberated.' It's interesting to see the dichotomies between Deathstroke going home, being a family man, and then The Jackal, who's very much: 'If you have loose threads, I'm going to hang you with them.'"

"I think the most appealing is we all know Deathstroke as this cold-hearted killer, bad guy, all that stuff," said director Sung Jin Ahn (Niko and the Sword of Light). "But I think this movie really features his broken heart and that's essentially what attracted me [to the project] because of the dealings with his family, how it intertwines with his professional life and it really was a big motivational factor for the film."

From the get-go, Jin Ahn saw the project as "a very realistic, grounded story about people that are really relatable because it deals with emotions and family ties and such." He set out to tell "a realistic, visceral, cinematic story" that would lean into the graphic comic book nature of the character. While he was allowed to go for an R-rating, he did have to be reigned in when it came to graphic violence.

"I had to have other people to tell me to pull back because I might've went to far," the director recalled. "[They said] 'Let's find a balance.' I think that was the right call because you don't want to just crank gratuitous violence every second of the way. You want to control that. My version would've been bullet in heads for everybody, all the bad guys and whatnot. I think it turned out well with the feedback I got: 'We need to tone it down at certain points, but let it unleash itself at the right moment.'"

Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons is now available to rent or purchase from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. Fans can either get their hands on a digital copy or a Blu-ray combo pack. SYFY WIRE exclusively revealed a clip from the movie in early August.

Click here for more of SYFY WIRE’s coverage of DC FanDome.